by Jordan Wagenseller Jones
We started this bi-lingual journey in 2018 when we lived in San Francisco. Terrified we could not find placement in a daycare, we applied to every daycare in a mile radius of our home. It came down to two options, Mandarin immersion or a California-hippy art-based daycare. My comfort level rested with the arts program, but my husband’s wise words changed my mind. “Jordan, you can teach her art but you can’t teach her Mandarin." Fast forward 2.5 years, and we are back in NYC attending Hudsonway Immersion.
It is a real leap of faith trusting a group of people with your child’s education, let alone in a different language. The administrators told us not to expect her to speak full sentences until the 4s and to have a full grasp of the language until 7 years old (or is that 7th grade?). We could only judge our decision based upon the administration/teachers, school environment and older student’s parents.
We love the administration. You can tell the founders, Sharon and Bill, put their heart and soul into the school. Their love for the school filters down to the teacher and parent community, which exhibits itself in the respect and love shown between students. For example, pre-covid, the 6th graders would read to the younger kids. Having an only child, it gave my daughter a sense of having siblings.
Beyond the sense of community, the language immersion is unrivaled. Prior to virtual learning, the only indication our daughter understood/spoke mandarin was through parent teacher conferences and our silly attempts to ask her a word and look it up in Google translate. However, now that we are virtually learning post-Thanksgiving for a week, we have been able to experience the immersion.
Wow! My husband and I keep saying to each other, “This is crazy. She understands everything the teacher is saying and she’s RESPONDING in Mandarin.” To be honest, I am amused that I have no idea what she is saying. I am proud she is accomplishing something at the age of 3.5 that I will never accomplish in my life.
Most importantly, our daughter is happy. She talks about making veggie pizza with her friends, and she asks if her Lǎoshī (teacher) can come to our building for her birthday.